It is with huge regret that RNA Central Office announces the sudden and untimely death of S/M Alan Magrath, who crossed the bar following a heart attack on Thursday 27 June.
Alan served almost half a century in or with the Royal Navy, and would have been entitled to have put his feet up and taken it easy when he swallowed the anchor six years ago.
But typically, Alan focused his energy on making life better for veterans, most notably with the RNA’s Project Semaphore initiative, of which he was a leading light.
Belfast-born Alan joined the Royal Navy in 1965 at HMS Ganges and started his Naval career as a Junior Assistant Stores Accountant.
He worked his way up the promotion ladder, achieving the rank of Warrant Officer in 1986.
He served at sea in a variety of ships, including Leander-class frigate HMS Argonaut, converted cruiser HMS Tiger, County-class guided-missile destroyer HMS London and aircraft carrier HMS Invincible.
In 1995 Alan was commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant. He became the Supply Officer (Stores) in HMS Sultan, quickly followed by promotion to Lieutenant and an appointment as Executive Officer of communications station HMS Forest Moor near Harrogate in 1998.
Further officer service within Fleet HQ – now Navy Command HQ - on Whale Island followed as Alan worked as the Executive Assistant within the Personnel Organisation, supporting two commodores and three captains over a period of four years.
He then worked for several years in the Navy Command Information Hub, initially as a Lieutenant and then as a contractor, during which time he played a leading role in the adoption of a new computer system within Navy Command.
In 2013, after working in or for the Royal Navy for 48 years, Alan finally took retirement – but that just signalled a change of direction, rather than a reduction in effort.
He began his association with the RNA as a point of contact in the North for Central Office, visiting branches and offering advice, which led onto a more formal role as part of the small Project Semaphore team, issuing iPads to help connect digitally-isolated veterans to the Internet, thereby bringing a raft of benefits such as better links with families and shipmates and savings from online services..
Alan joined the initiative at the very beginning and helped shape what was to become an award-winning and much-admired project, alleviating loneliness and social isolation amongst veterans.
RNA General Secretary Capt Bill Oliphant said: “Alan’s death is a huge shock and an even greater loss.
“Only the week before, Alan had agreed to be part of the working group that I am setting up in the autumn to look at the future strategy for the RNA.
“Alan was full of ideas and energy to keep the RNA relevant in modern society, and he will be sorely missed.
“Clearly, our thoughts are with his wife Nicki and his family at this saddest of times.”